Jun 18, 2010

Inkeri: European Court of Human Rights Blocks Expulsion to Russia

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The European Court of Human Rights has issued a temporary order blocking the expulsion of 82-year-old Irina Antonova from Finland to Russia.
Below is an article published by Helsingin Sanomat:

The order means that Antonova can stay in Finland at least for a few weeks. If the court wants to investigate the case further, and asks Finland and Antonova’s relatives for more information, her time in Finland could be extended by several months - even close to a year.
Human rights expert Jukka Viljanen of the University of Tampere says that because of its high-profile nature, the Antonova case is likely to take priority over many other cases.
The aim of this kind of temporary injunction is to prevent a serious human rights violation from taking place. In the case of asylum seekers, such moves usually involve the threat of torture or other inhumane treatment in the destination country.
Antonova, whose daughter lives in Finland with her Finnish husband, has been denied a residence permit in Finland. Viljanen says that the likely reason why the European Court of Human Rights ruled in her favour was the right to life, because she could be seen as being in too poor a physical condition to be turned back. On Wednesday she was still in hospital, where she was taken by ambulance on Tuesday.
The doctors said on Tuesday that in her current state of health, Antonova is not in any condition to be moved to Russia, after which her family appealed to the court to block her expulsion, because the travel could be seen as potentially dangerous.
According to Jukka Viljanen, there are no guarantees that the European Court of Human rights will ultimately rule in Antonova’s favour. The court has usually taken a strict line in issues of family ties, and in health-related appeals against expulsion, and has tended to give much discretion to the authorities of the country involved.
“One can count with the fingers of one hand the cases in which an expulsion would have been permanently cancelled for health reasons, for instance, because the health care available in the target country would not be good enough”, he says.
Antonova’s son-in-law Ari Laitaen heard about the suspension of Antonova’s expulsion from Helsingin Sanomat at 7:00 in the evening on Wednesday as he was going home from work. The news moved him deeply.
“This is good news. Very good news. I expect that Irina will be granted a residence permit after this”, he said.
“This has been a terrible ordeal, and the aftermath is still ahead. The Chancellor of Justice can have a say.”
Irina Antonova’s daughter Natalia Käärik and her husband had already given their approval to a Russian offer of a place at a home for the elderly run by the Villa Inkeri association about 80 kilometres southwest of St. Petersburg.
Laitanen emphasised that accepting the spot in the Villa Inkeri home, does not mean that they would have approved the expulsion.